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Scott Craig

Frustrated with new Akorn grill

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I purchased an Akorn Kooker more than 30 days ago from Lowe's.  First time out, I tried to grill steaks.  Could never get it up to temp.  Got it to 500 degrees, but only briefly.  Was very frustrated.  Checked online, and decided maybe I needed to use lump charcoal.  Bought some Frontier lump charcoal for tonight.  Fire looks pretty good.  Top damper open, bottom damper open almost all the way.  Maxxed out at 350 degrees, and dropping now.  Like last time, fire looked great.  Coals look great.  But not up to temp.  

 

I am just about to bring it to the dump.  I do not have a friend who can come by and show me what the hell I"m doing wrong.  And most of the tips I'm finding talk about getting it TOO hot, not the problem I'm having.  Really wish I didn't buy it, because it's ruined two meals and nights for me, and I don't do frustration well.  Can't see trying this again on my own.  I am not a complete neophyte at grilling - I know how to build a fire, and I know how to grill with gas.  Years ago I had a Brinkman kettle smoker, and that worked fine.  But if I wanted just a smoker, I wouldn't have spent $400.00 on it (including the smoke diffuser piece).  Extremely upset and disappointed.  Lowe's built the damn thing for us, and I can't find any flaws in how it was put together.  Has anybody else had this problem, ever?  The first time it was windy, and I used briquets.  But this time?  I just have no idea.

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G'day Scott, that must be disappointing and very frustrating for you.

I have a "Dragon" Kamado which is virtually identical to the Akorn.

I wonder if the lump charcoal you have may be a bad batch?

Maybe trying a different brand could help.

How much charcoal are you putting into the firebox? If you haven't already, try loading up to just under the tabs and lighting it in several different places. Make sure the ash tray is clean and the vents aren't blocked and have a bit of experimenting time with learning the fire/grill before attempting any cooking on it.

That thing should get to a roaring inferno if you let it (not advised) and if you have a very hot fire going make sure to "burp" it before opening the lid fully. I still wonder if the charcoal may be the culprit but would be most interested to hear how you get on. And use lump not briquettes     ;-)

Cheers,

Billy.

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how long are you giving it to get up to temp before using it. Mine would take 30mins to get up to temp which was a lot longer than i expected when i first started using if. Also i find  thermometer in the Dome is inaccurate and unreliable. What are you using to check temps?

 

Otherwise agree with everything billy grills said.

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Don't give up yet. The Akorn is a great grill and can peg out to 700+ F. Temp is all about fuel and air flow. A full load of lump with a lower grate that's not clogged and full open vents should get that baby ablazin'!

 

There's a lot of helpful information around here and lots of members willing to help you out.

 

Let us know how it works out.

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@Scott Craig

 

How much charcoal do you have in the firebox?  In most cases with kamado grills when someone can't get it hot enough, there is a charcoal deficiency.  The Akorn is fully capable of getting hot enough that it will self destruct the grill.  Seriously.

 

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47 minutes ago, John Setzler said:

@Scott Craig

 

How much charcoal do you have in the firebox?  In most cases with kamado grills when someone can't get it hot enough, there is a charcoal deficiency.  The Akorn is fully capable of getting hot enough that it will self destruct the grill.  Seriously.

 

 

+1 can you post some pics?

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Put in more wood, lots more! 

 

Kamados will kill the fire if you shut the vents after the cook, allowing you to use any unburned wood for the next fire. I only add charcoal occasionally, and for long burns. Hardwood charcoal is a particularly good fit because it leaves very little ash, so you can get away with burning a lot of wood between ash clean-outs. 

 

Just stay below the heat deflector tabs... "too much" can be achieved. 

 

Have fun,

Frank

 

 

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I'm not going to be much help here because the last time I did a high temp cook on my Akorn (for a challenge on this site) it screwed up the seasoning on the CI grate, so not again.  I have a second, cheapo grill that accepts Weber things like SS grills and I use it if I need 700 for a sear.  My Akorn is going to be used for baking temps and low and slow smoking.  Sorry. but some of these grills really aren't all things for all purposes, in my opinion.

 

 I'm going to bake a pecan pie on mine for Christmas so will post a "Pecan Pie With a Little Smoke" for Christmas.

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....well it depends on how you treat them.  I've owned two Kegs and 2 Akorn Jr's.  I upgraded from the B/K Keg 2000 model to the 5000.

All have cast iron grates, the Akorns big and small are thinner grates for sure.  I've taken the Keg to 800˚F and the Jr's to near 700˚F.  I have a rule now....there is nothing I need to cook over 600˚F and those temps are only reached for pizza.

Where I live is surrounded by salt water, I can see salt water from my home.  Food grease is the key!.  If and when you do a HH cook, follow-up in a day or two with a fattier cook, ribs, chicken legs, pork, 80-20 hamburgs, sausage, something to help your cast.

daninpd is quite correct if you leave your cast bare after an HH cook it will rust and could also stick.  A dab of mayonnaise on whatever your follow-up cook is will alleviate that or just spray that grate with pam after it cools.

In 3 years here in NL rust on my grates has not been an issue.

 

Scott, have you checked the assembly of your Akorn against the manual?  Are all of the parts in place?  New members here have found their ash pans were not correctly installed as an example?

 

 

 

Edited by K'man

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On 17/12/2017 at 5:16 AM, John Setzler said:

@Scott Craig

 

How much charcoal do you have in the firebox?  In most cases with kamado grills when someone can't get it hot enough, there is a charcoal deficiency.  The Akorn is fully capable of getting hot enough that it will self destruct the grill.  Seriously.

 

 

+2 I have an Akorn and this was my initial mistake and caused the fire to go out twice. Now I just tip the charcoal in and fill it up to the tabs. Topping up between cooks. I give it a cleanout and fresh charcoal when I want to do a low and slow. Even the charcoal I used last night (which has deteriorated to pebble size) did the job for some snags and veges at 200 C (around 392 F)

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When I first got mine I put in a small amount of charcoal because I didn't want to waste it. Long story short I had to unlearn some bad habits.

 

Fill at least halfway up to tabs, light it, check on it in about 10 minutes. As others have said, you will have more problems keeping temps down than up.

 

Outside of that stop being so dramatic. As guys we tend to take failing the first few times at learning a new grill way to personally. Yes I'm speaking from experience. :)

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First things first...

Use Lump Charcoal, I like Royal Oak, it's dependable, good, and readily available at Home Depot.

At a minimum I make a pile about half the size of a basketball and then use lighter cubes to start it up.
I take 1 cube and break it into thirds and light 3 different places.

Open the vents ( leave top open as well ) until the cubes burn out.

With vents open close the lid and let the pup heat up - 10-15 minutes should work.

Then adjust vents according to your cook.

 

Tip: I never 'wait' for the perfect grill temp to place my meat on. I don't want to open the lid and
mess around with airflow so I put the meat on at around 200 degrees and then adjust the vents
as needed. It takes a good 10-15 minutes for and up-or-down temp desire and it's way easier to
bring the temp UP than to bring the temp DOWN.
Opening the lid can play up-and-down games with temp.... just don't do it.

 

Tip: For high-heat cooks ( burgers / steaks / etc ) I use a chimney to start the fire in. This produces
a good hot-set of coals to start with. Then I add a handful of fresh coal for flavoring.

 

Tip: When it comes to using cherry / pecan / etc I live by the rule that less is more... actually, I hardly
ever use any flavoring wood.

 

Lastly... think of your Akorn and treat every cook as the Journey, not the Destination....
 

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On 12/16/2017 at 1:16 PM, John Setzler said:

@Scott Craig

 

How much charcoal do you have in the firebox?  In most cases with kamado grills when someone can't get it hot enough, there is a charcoal deficiency.  The Akorn is fully capable of getting hot enough that it will self destruct the grill.  Seriously.

 

What he said.

I got mine so hot it melted the gasket up top, and completely burned the seasoning off the grates.  

It will get hot if you give it enough charcoal.  That was always my issue if the temperature was too low

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